Iravin Nizhal movie review: An experimental thriller that works only because of its experiment

 Parthiban treats the movie as a Rubik’s cube where his character looks back at all the mistakes he’s made.

Iravin Nizhal movie review: An experimental thriller that works only because of its experiment

    Every film that Radhakrishnan Parthiban directs is a Parthiban Kanavu (Parthiban’s Dream). Ever since he made his directorial debut, Pudhiya Paadhai (1989), he has tried to bring newness to Tamil cinema. Newness can sometimes be daunting, too, because it may fail to create an impact and, therefore, drive the movies toward obscurity. Many of his movies have disappeared without a trace that way. But he has bounced back every single time. And because he doesn’t aim to make box office bonanzas, his missteps aren’t appalling.

    But the few films that have hit the right note are thoroughly enjoyable. Iravin Nizhal is a little bit of both. Although it was fun to be immersed in the world of his shadow, there was a gnawing voice in my head that constantly kept shouting: this is a gimmick – a gimmick so big that felt like he was pulling a rabbit out of a hat, which actually turned out to be a bandana.

    Iravin Nizhal movie review An experimental thriller that works only because of its experiment

    His character, Nandu, is a mix of violence and sarcasm. Sarcasm comes naturally to Parthiban. He doesn’t have to sit under a tree to find the right phrases for his feelings. But violence is something else altogether. And Iravin Nizhal isn’t violent like a regular action film. You don’t see too much blood on the screen. However, Nandu grows up in an environment that thrives on humiliating him. And that, in turn, makes him choose violence. At age ten, he’s given several packets of marijuana to sell. And later, when he’s heartbroken, he makes money by making cheap liquor. He quickly learns that he needs to become a bad person to survive in a bad place.

    Different actors play Nandu at different ages, but the single voice that stitches all the goings on in this non-linear thriller is that of Parthiban’s. He does most of the weightlifting in Iravin Nizhal to show that it’s his product after all. And he’s the face of it. He’s the body of it. Well, he’s also its soul. The entire first half of the movie until the point of intermission runs on the wheels of its making. The cast and crew members praise the director for coming up with this particular subject and go on to talk about their fears since they haven’t worked on anything like this before. The making also focuses on the number of takes it took to nail this in a single shot from start to finish – even a small glitch becomes unacceptable.

    Iravin Nizhal movie review An experimental thriller that works only because of its experiment

    The making video is a guidebook on passion and perseverance. And I’m sure that its beauty will bewitch future filmmakers. Parthiban thinks the unthinkable and pushes a boulder up a hill. And that’s why it doesn’t give me the same amount of pleasure to dive into the details of the second half where the real story and screenplay are present. I’m not unconcerned about Nandu’s journey. I keenly observed the hardship he endured and the kind of life he aspired for. At the bottom of it all, it’s mostly the story of a rags-to-riches man who doesn’t follow any principles. He wouldn’t have become rich in the first place if he had adopted a moral code.

    Iravin Nizhal has a money lender (who probably spends a lot of time taking care of his curls), a godman in the name of a conman, a godman’s assistant who’s just as greedy as the godman, a kid who loves her father till her fantasy comes crashing down on her, a wife who unconditionally loves her husband, and so on. They are all somehow related to Nandu since he’s the one whom we are tracking. And A. R. Rahman’s throbbing background score makes you think you’re watching an edge-of-the-seat thriller. But this is not a whodunit. You’re not solving any mystery here.

    Parthiban, though, might be solving something. He treats the movie as a Rubik’s cube where his character looks back at all the mistakes he’s made. But he’s not interested in seeking forgiveness. He doesn’t become a saint one fine day. He’s still a bad egg. Nevertheless, he acknowledges that piece of fact in the end. Even then, the climactic resolution doesn’t reward the viewers with its impeccability. It is, frankly, a mess.

    Upendra, the other writer-director who’s known for churning out innovative screenplays, albeit in Kannada cinema, also gives too much importance to the protagonist and reduces the supporting characters to the level of puppets. What I like about their movies anyway is that they are not afraid of stepping out of their comfort zones.

    Courage and foolishness sail in the same boat. If an idea works, the ideator will be hailed as a trailblazer. And if it doesn’t work, the ideator will be called a fool. It’s as simple as that. And since Iravin Nizhal comes with many labels attached to it, I’d say it’s a courageous project. It’d have been a better movie, however, if the story had more depth than a two-litre water bottle.

    Iravin Nizhal is playing in cinemas

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